Updated: Aug 8, 2022
by Michel Roux from ‘The Essence of French Cooking’ (Quadrille)
Photography: Lisa Linder
This famous tart, named after the region where it originated in Northeast France, has stood the test of time. It should be served just warm or hot, but not piping hot or its flavours will be lost on the palate. Some purists won’t hear of using Comté or any other cheese… but I’m standing by my inclusion of both cheese and lardons.
20g butter, to grease
300g flan pastry (see recipe below)
Flour, for dusting
½ egg, beaten
2 tsp groundnut oil
100g salted belly pork, rind removed, cut into small lardons, blanched and refreshed (or Nigel says use pre-bought lardons, smoked or not. As you wish)
3 eggs, plus 6 egg yolks
600ml double cream
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1½ tbsp Kirsch (optional)
100g Comté cheese, freshly grated
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Butter the inside of a tart ring, about 24cm in diameter and 3.5cm high, place on a small baking tray and set aside in the fridge. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface to a round, 3mm thick. Roll the pastry around the rolling pin and unravel it over the tart ring. Press the pastry into the ring using your index fingers and thumbs, making sure it is properly attached to the ring, then set aside in the fridge for 20 minutes. Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas 4.
Cut off any excess pastry above the top of the ring, using a small knife.
Prick the base with a fork in a dozen or so places, then line the base and sides with greaseproof paper. Fill with ceramic baking beans, rice or dried beans and cook in the oven for 15 minutes.
Lift out the paper and baking beans or rice. Brush the insides of the pastry case with the beaten egg and return it to the oven for 5 minutes, for the base to dry out. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool down, with the pastry case still in the ring.
For the filling, heat the groundnut oil in a frying pan over a medium heat, add the lardons and cook for 1 minute, then set aside in a small sieve.
Put the eggs, egg yolks and cream in a bowl and mix with a whisk, without overworking. Add the nutmeg, some salt and pepper and the Kirsch, if using.
Distribute the lardons and cheese over the base of the pastry case. Pour the egg and cream mixture into the case almost to the top of the ring, and transfer to the oven (at 180°C/Gas 4) for 20 minutes. Lower the oven setting to 160°C/Gas 3 and cook for a further 20 minutes.
Check the filling is cooked by inserting a trussing needle or skewer into the centre; it should come out clean and shiny, with no trace of filling on it. As soon as the quiche is cooked and out of the oven, lift the tart ring up and off the quiche, taking care not to damage it.
To serve, use a large palette knife to slide the quiche onto a round plate, or serve it on the baking tray. Use a sharp knife to cut it into slices at the table.
To make a tarte flambée, a distant cousin of this quiche, very finely slice 2 large onions and mix with 200ml double cream and the juice of 1 lemon. Add a generous sprinkling of thyme leaves and season with salt and pepper. Spread this mixture over
a puff pastry base 3–4mm thick, sprinkle with a few drops of olive oil and cook in a hot oven at 200°C/Gas 6 for 12–15 minutes. Serve straight from the oven, scattered with a few shavings of smoked pork if you like.
Pâte à Foncer / Flan Pastry
This pastry has a lovely crispness. It can be kept in the fridge for a week or in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Makes about 480g
250g plain flour
125g butter, cut into small pieces and slightly softened
1 tsp caster sugar
½ tsp fine salt
40ml cold water
Heap the flour on a clean work surface and make a well. Put the butter, egg, sugar and salt in the middle. With your fingertips, mix and cream the ingredients well.
Now, little by little, draw the flour into the centre and work the dough with your fingertips to a grainy texture. Add the cold water and mix it in until the dough begins to hold together.
Using the palm of your hand, push the dough away from you 4 or 5 times until it is completely smooth. Roll the pastry into a ball, wrap in cling film and refrigerate until ready to use.